US Student Visa laws are getting a second look in Congress these days. In an attempt to strengthen the US economy, several senators introduced bills this week that would reform US student visa regulations. The determining factor is the major that student visa holders decide to pursue. Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related majors are looked upon very favorably. A student visa holder pursuing one of these majors has a smoother immigration process than one who pursues a non-STEM major. Look for an article later this week that explains more about STEMs.
One of the bills, S. 3192, the Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology Jobs Act of 2012 or the “SMART Jobs Act” would create a new F-4 visa for foreign students pursuing a masters of doctorate in STEM fields in the US. After securing full time employment in a STEM field the graduates may have their status adjusted to Legal Permanent Resident.
Another new bill is S. 3185, the Securing the Talent America Requires for the 21st Century or “STAR Act.” This bill would allocate 55,000 immigrant visas for eligible STEM graduates (Master’s and Ph.D.) of qualifying U.S. research institutions who have job offers in related fields by eliminating the so-called “Diversity Visa” lottery program.
There is also S. 3217, the StartUp Visa Act 2.0. As David Leopold states in his blog on the bill: “The Senators propose to…attract foreign talent and “jump start” the economy by creating an Entrepreneur’s Visa for immigrants who establish businesses in the U.S. that create American jobs… The proposal also creates a green card for foreign students who have graduated from American Universities with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics.”
All these proposals are still bills and need to pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the President before they become law. But they are part of a larger pattern in Congress. Many Congressmen and Senators agree, we are better off with more student visa holders pursuing a STEM-related degree.